Is the land of fiction becoming our reality?

The period of lockdown has given us a

fair amount of time to explore ourselves. But then, let’s be honest. If any of us were asked if we have spent this free time efficiently, then only a few of us will speak in affirmation. Well, I am among the lazy group and I have only watched a lot of Netflix series and anime. While I was re-watching this anime, ‘DEATH PARADE’, I realized the anime is about the consequence of life and life after death. But then a deeper thought showed me another perspective. The plotline revolves around Decim, who is a bartender at ‘Quindecim’. He is an arbiter who passes judgment on souls after death. He decides if the deceased person will be reincarnated or pushed towards the void as lost souls. Decim is one of the many arbiters employed to judge souls. These arbiters are devoid of any human feelings but are ‘dummies’ created for the purpose.

Now the question that arises, how do these arbiters judge?

The humans that come to quindecim initially forget that they are dead. They are led to play different games, where the bet is placed on their life. In the meantime, the arbiter peeks into their memory. The twisted purpose of the game is, during the phase of intense competition, they are compelled to bring out the darkest secrets within their souls. How will those people behave in a competition? Will they be tempted to win through unfair ways, especially when their life is on stake?

The pilot episode explains the game very well. A married couple enters the bar and is to play the game of darts. The dartboard is divided into sections which are connected to their body parts. Whenever the player hits a certain section, the opponent feels the pain in the body part linked to that section.

With each hit, the deep and extreme events of their life resurface. The husband recalls when he was suspicious of his wife cheating and keeps hitting the board out of anger. The wife tells that she is pregnant and asked him to avoid hitting her belly. He finally loses his mind out of anger and pours out his grieves and accusations. In the meantime, wife recollects that they are dead. She admits to cheating on her husband and also claims that the baby doesn’t belong to him. Hence, Decim passes the judgment and the wife is sent to the void while the husband is sent to reincarnate.

However, Chiyuri, Decim’s assistant offers her analysis. She assessed that the wife must be lying. The jealousy of the husband led to an untimely death of the couple. The wife did cheat but she loved her husband as well. She knew that rage and jealousy have blinded her husband and she didn’t want her husband to feel the remorse of killing his child and thus lied. An animated dummy could not feel such intense complexities of human emotions. A person doesn’t deserve hell, because he/she lied to let their loved ones go to ‘heaven’. Thus, the judgment is flawed.

Let’s stop here. And compare the context to our mortal world. The modern world resides in the space age. Technology and comfort dominate all aspects of life. Artificial Intelligence carries booming possibilities to make our lives even more comfortable. But did this thought ever cross our mind, when we are swarmed with comfort and wondrous machines; we are being unfair to mankind. Humans feed the data to the robots and programmed them to work accordingly. But as we are witnessing more development in this field every day, we are gradually resting all the important moral decisions on those mechanized hands. We have led our laziness to the extent, where we are programming the robots to make our moral decisions and decisions that requires the empathy of a human. For instance, consider the ‘moral machine’ developed at MIT. The autonomous vehicles reduce the rate of accidents to a large extent. But the possibility of an accident cannot be overlooked. Can we trust the ethics of an AI-functioned vehicle? MIT’s moral machine showed a viewpoint where an autonomous vehicle will face a dilemma if the car should ride into the pavement, killing pedestrians or put the lives of passenger in danger? The self-driven vehicle carries the power of making an important moral decision depending on a complete random probability. Can a machine with screws and fed programmed data decide: which life is more important?

Does the above-mentioned situation feel similar? Isn’t it the same plot of DEATH PARADE where a mere soulless dummy carries the power of judging the complex human emotions, when he never felt a single ounce of feelings? Are we unconsciously living the horrible fictional world or is it the tyranny of the ambitious humankind?

Tags: #deathparade #artificialintelligence #moralmachine